What is the Safety Equipment for Boats That USCG Requires for National Vessel Documentation?

Boats can offer freedom and adventure that driving your car or flying on an airplane can’t offer. Owning or captaining your boat can boost your sense of self-confidence. It can give you a newfound sense of freedom. But before you sail along the coast for a weekend, make sure that you have the necessary national vessel documentation. If you have not secured it yet, then make sure to obtain it first. 

National Vessel Documentation and its Safety Requirements 

Before you can even request documentation, you need to ensure that the boat has met the USCG  safety requirements. These requirements are designed to ensure the safety of the boat’s occupants and other boaters. 

Personal Flotation Devices

These are life jackets or life vests. They are fundamental safety requirements for all boats, big or small. The USCG requires that each person on board must have a suitable and properly fitted PFD readily accessible. The number and type of PFDs required depend on the boat’s size and the number of occupants. It is vital to ensure that the PFDs are in good condition and properly maintained. 

Fire Extinguishers

Fire safety is of utmost importance on any boat. The USCG mandates that boats with USG vessel documentation must carry Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers. The number and type of fire extinguishers required depend on the size and class of the vessel. It is vital to regularly inspect and maintain fire extinguishers, ensuring they are readily accessible, properly charged, and with their expiration dates. 

Navigation Lights

Proper navigation lights are vital for safe boating, especially during low visibility or nighttime operations. The USCG requires boats to display navigation lights that comply with specific regulations. These lights ensure that other vessels can see and identify your boat’s position, direction of travel, and maneuverability. It is important to regularly inspect and test them to ensure they are in working order before every trip. 

Visual Distress Signals

They are essential for attracting attention in emergency situations. The USCG mandates that boats with national vessel documentation must carry Coast Guard-approved VDS devices. These can include flares, orange smoke signals, and electric distress lights. The type and quantity of VDS required depend on the boat’s size, operating area, and the time of day it is operated. It is crucial to check the expiration dates on flares and replace them when necessary to ensure they are in working condition when needed. 

National Vessel Documentation


Before you can even obtain USCG vessel documentation, the Coast Guard will have to inspect your boat. That’s why it is pertinent that you have all the necessary pieces of safety equipment on board. Without them, your application will be denied. Even if you have all the maritime documents required, the USCG will not approve your application if you lack even one piece of safety equipment that it mandates. 

Have a look around our website and read some topics on how to renew or obtain USCG documentation for the first time. You may also call us to assist you with the national vessel documentation application.